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Memory loss and dementia: at work

People who experience memory loss or dementia early in life may initially think it will be difficult to keep up with their careers. But as a result of the Equality Act 2010, this doesn’t have to be the case. Dementia does not immediately mean the end of professional life; however, it does mean employers must be prepared to provide suitable accommodations to support this major life adjustment.

Looking for work

In the UK, Jobcentre Plus is the main provider of support for disabled people looking for work. Within each Jobcentre is a Disability Employment Adviser (DEA), who can help you;

  • Find a job;
  • Find job-related training;
  • Find disability friendly employers; and
  • Refer you to a work psychologist, if appropriate.

Work Choice

Your DEA can also advise you on programmes to help you get into work, which include Work Choice—a government supported employment programme built specifically to help you find a job, and offers support when you start work. It includes:

  • Training and help in developing your skills;
  • Support in building your confidence; and
  • Interview coaching.

The level of assistance provided depends on what you need and varies from person to person; find out more about the details associated with assistance from the Work Choice section of the GOV.UK website.

Specialist Employability Support

Specialist Employability Support provides mentoring and training to disabled people who do not qualify for other government schemes like Work Choice. To receive Specialist Employability Support, you must have a disability or health condition, be unemployed and of working age.

Depending on your needs, two types of support are available:

  • Short-term support and training which typically lasts for around three months; and
  • Long-term help usually lasting for 12 months.

You are allowed to choose the organisation that supports you, whether it is your local Jobcentre Plus or a specialist disability employment agency.  

Check out the Specialist Employability Support section of GOV.UK to find out more about the scheme.

Two Ticks

When looking for work, remember to search out Two Ticks—the "positive about disabled people" symbol—on vacancy lists and ads in England, Scotland and Wales. (Note: the symbol is not used in Northern Ireland.)

This Jobcentre Plus programme supports employers who wish to hire disabled people. These employers must:

  • Interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and consider them on their abilities;
  • Discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what you can both do to make sure employees can develop and use their abilities;
  • Make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment;
  • Take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work; and
  • Review these commitments every year and assess what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.

Disclosing your disability

Looking for work can be difficult, and some potential employers might seem dismissive of you if you have memory loss or dementia. But remember, it’s against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of a disability. However, your potential employer may ask if you have a health condition or disability on an application form or in an interview; whether or not you disclose your disability is entirely up to you.

If driving is part of the job requirement, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) must be made aware of your condition. The GOV.UK website has a guide that explains how to let the DVLA know about memory loss or dementia conditions. You will have to share this information with your automobile insurance company too.

If you do decide to make your potential employer aware of your memory loss, you would be entitled to "reasonable adjustments" during the interview. To find out more about adjustments during an interview, visit the Disability rights section of the GOV.UK website.

In the workplace

When you are in work, your employer needs to make whatever "reasonable adjustments" are necessary to ensure that you are on par with your non-disabled peers in the workplace. These may include:

  • Purchasing equipment that can help with duties and tasks;
  • Incorporating a sufficient degree of flexibility into deadlines;
  • Making changes to the work environment; and
  • Adjusting working hours and job responsibilities.

The Alzheimer's Society has a helpful PDF on Employment; it is free to download from the Working section of the organisation's site.

Access to Work

Access to Work is a grant programme run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This government funded initiative has been set up to provide practical advice and financial support for disabled people who are employed, self-employed or about to start a job. Access to Work is designed to support disabled people to help them:

  • Start working;
  • Stay in work; and
  • Become self-employed or start a business.

Jobs can be part-time, full-time, temporary or permanent and coverage has recently been extended to include traineeships, supported internships, work trials and work academies.

The scheme helps you overcome disability barriers by helping to pay for work related costs such as special aids or adaptations you might need at work, a support worker to help you do your job or help with travel if you have difficulties using public transport.

Grants are for practical support that is over and above employers’ legal requirements to make reasonable adjustments. Access to Work grants are tailored to meet individual needs and are not means tested, so they don’t need to be paid back and don't affect other benefits.

Access to Work grants provide funds towards the costs of equipment or travel to work; and for additional information about eligibility, visit Disability Grants website and go to the Access to Work section.

Employment support for people with memory loss or dementia

If you lose your job or are about to lose your job, your memory loss should not be a factor. The Unforgettable.org website has a helpful guide with pointers that can help you keep your job and talk about your dementia with your employer. And the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) has a downloadable PDF with tips for employers who want to be more dementia friendly. Young Dementia UK also has a section dedicated to Working - advice for employers.

Redundancy

Before employers consider redundancy, they should go through a consultation process and take reasonable steps to include you. An employer cannot select someone for redundancy simply because of a disability. They must go through a fair and balanced process that does not put you at a disadvantage because of your memory loss.

To find out more, please visit the Redundancy section of the GOV.UK website.

Retirement

In the same way that employers cannot select you for redundancy due to your disability, they are unable to ask you to retire before you are legally required to do so. But if you do decide to retire early, there are ways to protect your state pension and your company pension plan—if you have one.

For information on how to protect your state pension, visit the Department for Work and Pensions and look for details of your local office. You can contact an independent financial advisor to discuss your company pension plan by visiting UnbiasedUK. And to find out about planning for your retirement, please visit the Plan your retirement income section of the GOV.UK website.

Dismissal

Your employer is unable to dismiss you for reasons related to your disability.

To find out more about being dismissed from your job, please visit the Dismissal: your rights section of the GOV.UK website.

Know your rights

Under the Equalities Act 2010, employees and job seekers with disabilities are legally protected against discrimination. From the initial recruitment process to promotion and pay along with accessibility in the workplace, it is vital that you are clear on your position and cover.

For more information about your rights, please check out the Disability discrimination section on the ACAS website or the Disability Discrimination section of the WorkSmart.org website. For official information and details about the Equality Act 2010, visit the Disability rights section of the GOV.UK website.

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